December 18, 2013

What does transgender really mean? On Wikipedia's misleading article.

The recent discussion on what a girlfag is or isn't has made me realize that there is a lot of confusion about the meaning of the word "transgender", and the main reason for this uncertainty is found in the current version of the relevant Wikipedia article.
Wikipedia is trying to amputate the transgender rainbow.
(Photo:  PinkSherbetPhotography)

The Wikipedia definition

The article starts out with the following sentence:

"Transgender is the state of one's gender identity (self-identification as woman, man, neither or both) not matching one's assigned sex."

No wonder many of my crossdreamer and girlfag/guydyke friends do not want to call themselves transgender! If they feel at home in their own bodies and/or identify with their birth sex this definition will not describe their sense of self.

This definition reflects, however, in no way the common usage of the term "transgender". You can find traces of this fact in the rest of the Wikipedia text.

The article states, for instance:

"While people self-identify as transgender, the transgender identity umbrella includes sometimes-overlapping categories. These include transsexual; transvestite or cross-dresser; genderqueer; androgyne; and bigender."

The inclusion of crossdressers alone is enough to undermine the first definition given above, given that many crossdressers identify with their birth sex.

(Please note that other parts of the Wikipedia article allows for the inclusion of those who are transgender not because their gender idendity is at stake, but because they like to express themselves in way that are in violation of expected gender behavior. In other words: The text does not stop people who identify as their birth sex to call themselves transgender. Still, since the main parts is about gender identity, the text is not normally read this way.*)

So what does transgender really mean?


December 16, 2013

Truscum and the Transgender War of Words

While "classic" male to female transsexual women reject the word "transgender", the female to male transsexual separatists are claiming ownership. What is a crossdreamer to do?
Separatism divides and weakens us (photo: Ken Lloyd)


There are many wars on terminology going on in the spheres of gender and sexuality. The common denominator seems to be a need to uphold some kind of cultural and natural purity.

Accusations about appropriation and mislabeling are launched with varying precision, in gay as well as trans communities.

In the case of the transsexual separatists, this is a fight to end all doubts about them being real women or real men, as any association with crossdreamers and crossdressers is seen as a threat to their legitimacy.

The narrative of the classic transexual

The male to female transsexual separatists  argue that real  transsexual women suffer from a medical condition, and that they have nothing in common with crossdreamers, crossdressers, drag queens,  and gender queer, who  -- according to them -- are not suffering from such a medical condition.

Since they mistakenly believe the word "transgender" was coined by the infamous male to female crossdresser Virginia Prince (it wasn't!), they become insulted if you try to include them under this umbrella term for gender variant people.

According to them they have never been part of the Transgender Continent. Calling them "separatist" is therefore also insulting. They live on an island of their own.

The bizarre reversal of the female to male separatists

In my recent ventures into the female to male side of the Trans Continent, I have found the brother tribe of the MTF classical transsexual.  On tumblr, which has become an important arena for trans debate, they are know as "truscum".

(No, I have not been able to find the origin of the term truscum, although it seems clear that it was originally meant as a slur against the separatists.)

The truscum argue that transsexuality is a medical condition and that transsexuality is defined by the symptom of physical sex dysphoria (i.e. severe suffering from a misalignment between sex identity and body). They accuse non-transsexual people of "transtrending", i.e. appropriating real transsexual identities.

But here's the kicker: The FTM truscum trans men call themselves transgender! 


December 13, 2013

Trans woman speaks out about crossdreaming and transitioning

There is a very interesting post over at the reddit Crossdreamer subedit written by transtwin about crossdreaming and the question of transitioning.
Gender questioning (photo: Vladimir Nikulin)

It is interesting because transtwin is a transsexual woman, and we do not often hear from crossdreamers after they have transitioned. (They are, for obvious reasons, moving on with their lives.)

Secondly it is helpful because she presents a very balanced and pragmatic approach to the decision gender dysphoric crossdreamers have to make.

She writes:

"Whether you like it or not, you have a type of sexuality that requires you to look carefully at yourself and take an account of your life and your future in a way that others don't have to. Here is what you need to ask yourself:

  • How do these feelings impact me on a daily basis, how have these feelings evolved over time? How do I anticipate these feeling impacting my ability to do my job, function as a member of society, and fulfill my potential? What do I see in my future in regards to these feelings?
  • How do these feelings impact my relationships with others? Do I feel that I am hiding a part of myself I wish I wasn't? In sexual relationships, do I feel like I am satisfied with who I get to be? Does my sexuality mesh/match well with my partner, really?
  • Will I grow older and always wonder 'what if?'
  • What are my reasons for hiding this side of myself from others? Do I find myself modifying my truths and doing my best to be what others want me to be instead of what I want to be myself?"
She does not say that dysphoric crossdreamers ought to transition. She does not say that transitioning is wrong. Instead she underlines the need for a process where you try to understand what all of this is and what it means for you:

December 10, 2013

A Creative Crossdreamer Vocabulary, from "Negation" to "Real Life Fantasies"

Here is the third part of my Crossdreamer Dictionary. You can read the first entries here!
Many crossdreamers are torn between the male and the female.
Photo: Vasiliy Yakobchuk


Are there any crossdreamer phenomena, feelings or ideas you think should be included? Please add them in  a comment!

I know, for instance, that some of you think my selection slants too much to the gender dysphoric side. That should not come as a surprise, given that I am using my own life experience when writing.  It would therefore  be particularly useful with input from non-dysphoric crossdressers.

It does not matter if the capital letter of your entry has been covered. I will make a follow up post. Moreover, I will add them all to the following ebook.

Negation

One efficient way of disciplining
crossdreamers is to invalidate
their sense of identity. Illustration: Elenarts
Many people seek comfort in strict  stereotypes, and they do their best to police others who do not share their prejudices.

A very efficient way of forcing others to adhere to whatever is considered "self-evident" in a society is to negate or invalidate the lives of those who fall outside these norms.These tactics are used against women, people from other cultures and different races, the disabled, homosexuals and  transgender.

As Julia Serano has pointed out in her book Excluded, there are many ways of invalidating people,  transgender and crossdreames included:
  • Claiming that you are mentally ill or incompetent.
  • Sexualizing. People of color are for instance often depicted as being exotic, promiscuous or sexually predatory.
  • Accusing you of being immoral, like in "homosexuals are out to deceive straight people".
  • Claiming that you are sick or contagious (Like in: "One drop of Jewish blood is enough to make you a dirty Jew!").
  • Arguing that some type of body or behavior is anomalous or even "unnatural". (Homosexuality is for instance often considered "unnatural", even if same-sex relationships are common in nature). 
  • You are accused of being inauthentic or fake (like in "You are not a woman. You are just a male rapist  in an ugly dress!")
  • Claiming that you and those who like you are suffering from a fetish (like in: "He does not really love you; he just has a fetish for fat people".)
Negation causes a tremendous amount of suffering among crossdreamers, as it makes it extremely hard for many of them to integrate this side of themselves into their sense of self.
Pretending (photo: Cameron Whitman)

Normailien*

Many crossdreamers become normaliens (or norm-aliens) when they try to adapt to the gender identity and the gender roles their friends, families and colleagues expect of them. This especially applies to crossdreamers of the introvert and sensitive personality types.

To all the people around them they appear to be "normal" (although somewhat socially awkward) men and women. On the inside, however, they are nothing like it. Many normaliens are splitters, i.e. they compartmentalize their mind into separate male and female parts.

Packing

Female to male crossdreamers may explore their male sexuality by wearing a strap-on dildo when going out.

Male to female crossdreamers may "pack" as well, normally wearing female underwear. The term originated in the lesbian subculture.

December 4, 2013

A Creative Crossdreamer Vocabulary, from "Dark Crossdreamers" to "Misaffirmation"

Here is the second part of my new Crossdreamer Dictionary. You can read the first entry here!

Crossdreamers are men and women who get excited by the idea of being the other sex. In this series I try to present imaginary (and not so imaginary) terms that can help us understand what crossdreaming is about.

Dark crossdreamers*
Some crossdreamers have suppressed
their other side completely.
Photo: michele piacquadio

Dark crossdreamers are people who have managed to suppress their transgender side completely. They are not even aware of splitting (i.e. a mental compartmentalization of their other side).

The dark crossdreamers are as mysterious and invisible as dark matter, although some dark crossdreamers may have a breakthrough, as the suppressed side forces its way to the surface. This is why we know they exist.

The existence of dark crossdreamers makes it impossible to determine how large a proportion of the human population is actually crossdreamers.


Dysphoric

Dysphoric crossdreamers feel a strong sense of misalignment between their bodies and their minds. Quite often they will feel completely alienated from their own bodies and the gender role they are forced to play. They only manage to live the "normal" lives of someone assigned to their birth sex through great sacrifice. Many of them will end up transitioning.

In spite of what some  would like you to believe, most transsexual men and women have been crossdreamers.

Erotic dissonance

Crossdreaming or being turned on by something (song, movie scene, etc.) that is not meant to be sexual but simply funny, exciting, etc.

(Hat tip to Hagia Sofia)

Euphoria*

Euophoria is the intense sense of joy a crossdreamer may feel when he or she is able to express his or her hidden side. This may be male to female crossdresser's joy of wearing feminine attire, the female to male crossdressers mischievous sense of power from "packing", or it may be the emotional release that comes from writing a story, a caption or a comic that make perfect sense.

Euphoria is related to soaring.

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